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Rio Dulce

Photo © SChandler

Travel Guide Central America Guatemala Rio Dulce



Rio Dulce is a city in eastern Guatemala. Rio Dulce town is a popular moorage spot for people sailing around the Caribbean, as it is qets very little damage from hurricanes. The main part of town is along the CA13 highway, where most shops, transport, and other services are. The rest is along the river, including marinas and accommodation options.



Sights and Activities

  • Castillo De San Felipe - A small fort built from the days of pirates. Makes for a half day trip.
  • Quiriguá - Mayan ruins southwest of town. Either arrange transportation in town or Chicken Bus out to the site.
  • Finca Paraiso (Hot Springs Waterfall) - A blend of hot springs, a hot waterfall, a cool emerald pool to swim and play in (cliff diving is great fun when the water is high), lush tropical jungle and if you're lucky, mingle with the local villagers. A simply beautiful place to swim and relax. Gets full on weekends and holidays. Get there by taking a bus from the market in Rio Dulce, heading towards El Estor\Lago Izabal.
  • Take a boat tour of the Rio Dulce, which can include a waterside view the Castillo, a stop by hot springs, and other natural features of the river. The journey is particularly beautiful and is well worth trying out, the trip then ends at Livingston.



Getting There

There are 1st class buses and chicken buses connectiong Rio Dulce with Flores (Guatemala), Guatemala City and Antigua via Guatemala city. Shuttles from Coban are possible as well. Buses are also available to/from Copan Ruinas in Honduras with a change of bus at a junction - but you can buy tickets directly to your destination.

Boats come up the river from Livingston every couple of hours.



Getting Around

Getting around Rio Dulce really depends on your mood. You can walk, take a chicken bus, sail, hire a Lancha, take one of the many shuttles or minibuses or even a Tuk-Tuk. If you're heading to one of the further sites, you can even mix & match.




There are numerous restaurants along the riverside, some more upscale serving international food, others serving simpler things, but still mainly aimed at visitors in sailboats and other tourists. Street food and minimarkets are on the main street.

  • Sundog Cafe - Great place to get a sandwich and a beer.
  • Bruno's. Great restaurant and hotel. Has dock space for boats as well as a small pool, Wi-Fi and laundry service. Next to (and below) the bridge on the Fronteras/Rio Dulce side.
  • Tortugal Hotel & Marina, Tortugal, Casilla Unica Fronteras, Rio Dulce (Hire a Launcha from the Municipal Dock or call for a Hotel Launcha), ☎ +(502) 5306-6432, e-mail: Great restaurant mixing Guatemalan Cuisine with international favorites.




There are many places outside the immediate town on the banks of the river that are nice. They can only be reached by boat. Most have private shuttle boats and will come to pick you up if you call them. Tijax Express, close to the bridge, is Rio Dulce's unofficial tourist information. They can call all the places and arrange pickup.

  • Hotel Backpackers, El Relleno (Once in Rio Dulce, everyone pretty much knows where Hotel Backpackers is located, so finding the place should prove fail-proof. If coming by land (shuttle or car), they are on the El Relleno side of the Bridge, just beneath it, right on the water. If by bus, it will drop you on the Fronteras side of the Bridge. Simply walk or take a tuk tuk across the bridge to the El Relleno side - take the stairs on the left down to the street beneath and walk toward the water (they are just beneath the bridge). There is a bright blue sign with a female backpacker across from the entrance that will ensure you are in the right place. For those arriving by water, simply ask the Lancha operator to drop you at Hotel Backpackers 'under the bridge'. They are all familiar with the location and you should have no trouble. If you are flying in to Guatemala city, find your way to the Bus Station and once you arrive in Rio Dulce, follow the land directions above.), ☎ +502 7930 5168, +502 7930 5169. Check-in: 3:00pm, check-out: 12:00pm. Offering accommodations from a hostel dorm bed to a private king bed suite, a full-service restaurant & bar, hot showers, laundry service and free Wi-Fi. Within walking distance from the bus station, under the Rio Dulce Bridge. from $5 - $65 US (hostel dorm beds to private king suites). edit
  • Tortugal Hotel & Marina, Tortugal, Casilla Unica Fronteras, Rio Dulce (Guest receive free shuttle service from Rio Dulce), ☎ +(502) 5306-6432, e-mail: Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00.



Keep Connected


Internet access is widely available. Even most of the more remote areas have some type of internet access available. Many larger areas also have WiFi. All of the Camperos chicken/pizza restaurants (which are numerous) offer free WiFi, as well as many other restaurants and cafes. Some hotels may also offer computer banks with internet access. Just ask and you eventually will find some sort of free access.

If you have a smartphone such as iPhone, Google Android, you just need a local SIM card (roughly Q25) and can start enjoying the prepaid access plans, which generally come in lots of an hour, a day, or a week.


See also International Telephone Calls

Guatemala's emergency phone numbers include 110 (police), 120 (ambulance) and 123 (fire). Guatemala's international calling code is 502. There are no area codes. Phone numbers all have eight digits.

The phone system isn't great, but it works. Tourists can call abroad from call centers, where you pay by the minute. It is also easy to purchase a calling card to use at public pay phones. The phones there do not accept money, so to use a public phone on the street you must purchase a telephone card. Typically, the cost is around 8 quetzals for a 10-min call to North America, and slightly more to Europe. Cell phones are quite cheap and calling overseas through one can get as low as $0.08 a min. If you are planning to stay for a while and plan to use the phone, you should consider buying a cheap prepaid phone. Wireless nation-wide internet access for laptops is also available as a service from some companies. Telefónica has good coverage with their PCMCIA EV-DO cards.


El Correo is the national postal company in Guatemala. It offers a wide range of services, including sending cards and packages both domestically as well as internationally. Most Guatemalan towns have a post office, although your best bet is to send mail from a large city. Service at El Correo is improving, thanks to consultation and assistance from Canada Post. Most post offices open from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Airmail letters to North America and Europe cost from Q6.50 and take a week or two to arrive. High-end hotels can usually send your mail for you, too. Expect packages you send through the Guatemalan mail system to take a very long time to arrive. They usually get there in the end, but it's worth paying extra for recorded delivery (correo registrado). Many stores can ship your purchases for you, for a cost. Valuable items are best sent with private express services. Couriers operating in Guatemala include DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Delivery within two to three business days for a 1-kg package starts at about Q500.


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This is version 2. Last edited at 13:52 on Feb 5, 18 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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